National Geographic : 1969 Jan
says the Bank of America in a special report, at one of the highest rates in the world. With six years of compulsory education, Taiwan's literacy rate exceeds 90 percent. With more than 40 percent of the people under 15, one out of four persons is in school. The young population has helped create what the Bank of America calls "Taiwan's most impor tant and least expensive resource ... its supply of diligent and intelligent working people." Japanese, American, Overseas Chinese, and European firms are investing in Taiwan at a record rate. The value of industrial exports now exceeds that of agricultural exports. The increased production of electronics compo nents, plastics, paper, cement, handicrafts, tex tiles, and canned goods spurred a 13 percent rise in the gross national product for 1967. While much of the continent wallowed in war and revolution, hunger and discontent, how did tiny Taiwan achieve a standard of living surpassed in Asia only by Japan and Hong Kong, an economy so stable that the United States has ended all but military aid? Korean War Brings Reprieve Historically and racially Chinese, Taiwan had been a part of China for more than 200 years when Japan occupied it after the first Sino-Japanese War in 1895. Liberated by Ja pan's defeat in World War II, the island be came part of the Nationalist China of Chiang Kai-shek. But his newly appointed governor abused his position and brutally suppressed an uprising by the people. TOM DAVENPORT© N.G.S. Great numbers of Taiwan ese died in the disorders. Many more were executed. Another governor was ap pointed. In 1949, Chiang lost the mainland to the Commu nists and moved his regime to Taipei. With him came more than half a million of ficers and enlisted men and a million civilians-teach ers, students, businessmen, industrialists, and artists. Humiliated by Commu nist victories in the home land, fearing an invasion of Taiwan itself, and smarting under the concerted attack of world opinion, the Na tionalists were very close to extinction. But Communist China's intervention in the Korean War helped save them. Aware that a take-over of Taiwan by the Communists Few drop-outs here. Exercis ing Taiwan schoolgirls belong to an education-hungry genera tion that keeps 97 percent of its members in school, many in shifts. Schools, mostly coeduca tional, require uniforms. Nine out of ten islanders can read and write. But a brain drain hurts: One fifth of last year's 11,000 college graduates left for the United States, many to remain for high-paying jobs.